Not a lot of can’t misses on this list. Last year we did a top ten for Panama alone, but the prospects were not that great to try to come up with another top ten. There is one major leaguer on this list, but that is because he is a Rule V pick.
1) Ariel Jurando (Rangers/Panama) RHP - Ariel relies more on command than heat. His fastball hits the mid-90s with downward spin that entices numerous ground balls. For his career his ground ball to air ball rate is 2.12. At 6′1″ he is not the ideal height for a righthander and the lack of quality secondary pitches could spell trouble against major league hitters. This year teams are hitting him at a .278 clip with seven homeruns in just 58 innings. Ariel has not given up seven homeruns in a season in his career. His strikeout numbers have also fallen off. Ariel is expected to find himself in the back end of the rotation or as a middle reliever. He could see a September callup if his year improves.
2) Edmundo Sosa (Cardinals/Panama) SS - Edmundo got a bonus of $425,000 in 2012, which was the largest for any Panamanian that year. The best tool for Edmundo is his glove with the ability to make the spectacular plays as he glides to the ball. The bat appears to be a little light despite the .300 average in the rookie leagues. The 2016 season was shortened by a wrist injury that ended his season in July after just 97 games. The power also seems a little light. He is playing in the Florida State League where he is hitting a soft .269. If stolen bases were in his tool box he could be a possible starter but he also falls short in that department. The Cardinals seem to be set at short with Aledemys Diaz so the best hope for Sosa could be as a utility player or be included in a trade package if the Cardinals want to load up for a playoff run.
3) Mauricio Dubon (Brewers/Honduras) SS - They don’t play a lot of baseball in Honduras where Mauricio was born. Fortunately for Dubon he moved to the United States to play high school ball. The Red Sox drafted him in the 26th round of the 2013 draft then traded him to the Brewers last year in the Tyler Thornburg trade. He makes solid contact with good gap power. His over the fence power could improve with added strength. He will never be an elite fielder at short, but his bat could make him a good utility player. He is currently hitting .294 at AA while showing some impressive speed with 23 stolen bases in 30 attempts. Last year he stole a career high 30 stolen bases. Myworld expects him to be more a utility player than starter.
4) Touki Toussaint (Braves/Haiti) RHP - Touki was born in Florida but moved to Haiti when he was three months old. He returned to the United States at six years of age and began his baseball career. At 6′3″ he has good height for a pitcher. The Diamondbacks drafted him in the first round of the 2014 draft but grew frustrated with his lack of command and traded him to the Braves to rid themselves of the Bronson Arroyo salary. His command is still suspect where he walks more than 4.5 hitters per nine innings. His fastball hits the mid-90s and the curveball is a stellar pitch, but his lack of command and a missing third offering could prevent him from pitching in the rotation. A bullpen role could be in his future. This year he seems more hittable with the opposition hitting him at a .251 clip when his last two years hitters stayed below .230. This has elevated his ERA to 6.80 in nine starts.
5) Roniel Raudes (Red Sox/Nicaragua) - What Roniel lacks in velocity he makes up for in his arsenal of pitches. While his fastball can barely touch 90 he mixes it well with his curveball and change. With his above average command he sends hitters back to the bench frustrated. Last year the opposition hit him at a .260 clip but he did create a lot of swings and misses with 8.8 whiffs per nine innings pitched, winning 11 games and being voted the Red Sox minor league pitcher of the year. This year the success has been lacking in High A with the opposition hitting him at .293. A couple days ago the Red Sox placed Roniel on the minor league disabled list.
6) Jaime Barria (Angels/Panama) - Another pitcher from Panama who lacks the heat, but controls the plate with his command. The Angels signed him in 2013 and last year he debuted in the full season Low A pitching well enough to make the All Star team. His best pitch may be the change, with a curve ball also in his arsenal. With the promotion to the California League, known for hitters abusing pitchers Jaime is dominating with a 2.48 ERA and limiting the opposition to a .202 average. The Angels will do good if he can make the back end of the rotation.
7) Jonathan Arauz (Astros/Panama) - The Phillies signed Arauz for $600,000 in 2014 then traded him to the Astros along with closer Ken Giles for a package of prospects. There is very little flashy about his game. The bat is light, lacking power. His range is also light with little to no stolen base speed. His 2017 season has not started yet, which could be the result of his 50 game suspension for testing positive for drugs.
8) Estevan Florial (Yankees/Haiti) - Estevan was actually born in Haiti. Originally signed to a six figure contract it was reduced to $200,000 after an identity problem. Speed is his best tool but it has not resulted in stolen bases. It does help him cover ground in centerfield. His bat shows some power but his inability to make contact hampers the power from showing. Last year at Pulaski he hit .225 with 78 whiffs in just 60 games. This year his average is improved (.270) with better extra base power. His 11 doubles has already surpassed his total from last year. If Estevan can improve his ability to make contact he could have a future as a lead off hitter. If his power develops he could find himself in a power spot.
9) Javier Guerra (Padres/Panama) SS - Javier had a rough year last year (.202 average) after hitting 15 homeruns and batting .279 in 2015. The Red Sox signed him in 2012 for $250,000 then traded him to the Padres for Craig Kimbrel after the 2015 season. The Padres may be wondering who they got in the trade especially after those struggles continue this year (.212). His ability to make contact has suffered after 2015 striking out 141 times in 105 games last year and 65 times in just 48 games this year. His OBA sits at .264 this year, the same as it was last year. His defense is exceptional but if his bat does not improve his major league opportunities will be limited.
10) Allen Cordoba (Padres/Panama) - The Padres stole him from the Cardinals in the Rule V draft. In rookie ball he showed an ability to hit with a .309 career average. Since he had not played past rookie ball many did not expect him to make the major league roster. The Padres are not going anywhere so they kept him where he has surprised with the bat (.304 average). Not expected to hit for any power he has hit three homeruns for the Padres for a .435 slugging average. In the minors he had a career slugging average of .395 with just four homeruns in four years. The Cardinals drafted him as a shortstop but Allen has seen most of his time in the outfield.